Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size

    New Clues on How Cancer Spreads

    Cells Within a Tumor May Pave the Way for Cancer's Spread
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Nov. 27, 2006 -- New clues about how tumors prepare for cancer's deadly spread may open up new avenues for cancer prevention and treatment.

    A Japanese study suggests that early in lung cancer's progression, cells within a tumor may pave the way for cancer's invasion by triggering processes that allow for the spread of disease. By interrupting these signals, researchers were able to block the development of cancer's spread to lungs in mice.

    Cancer advances through a process of metastasis in which the cancer spreads from the initial site to other areas of the body, making it more deadly and difficult to treat. By learning more about the processes that trigger this spread, researchers say they may be able to develop new cancer treatment strategies.

    Tumors Prepare for Invasion

    In the study, researcher Sachie Hiratsuka of Tokyo Women's Medical University School of Medicine and colleagues studied mice bred to develop cancer.

    They found certain chemicals were produced in the lung by factors secreted by the primary tumor. These chemicals then prompted the migration of both inflammatory and tumor cells to the lung.

    Researchers found an amplifying circuit was created between the primary tumor and the targeted area to facilitate the tumor's invasion. But interrupting this circuit of signals effectively stopped the invasion or spread of cancer to the lungs in mice.

    If further studies confirm these results, published in Nature Cell Biology, researchers say targeting this preparatory period in tumors may open up a new avenue to prevent the spread of cancer.

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    what is your cancer risk
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    prostate cancer overview
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    Actor Michael Douglas